Archive for May, 2017

Eternal Life

May 31, 2017

TO KNOW ETERNAL LIFE

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“In those days Mary set out. . .”Luke 1:39-40

Christians have long imagined “eternal life” in any number of creative ways, such as a castle in the sky, a fabulous banquet, or the gift of immortality among others.  But Jesus lays out a very different description of eternal life: In John he tells us that we should know “the only true God” and Jesus Christ, the one whom God sent.

This seems odd, until we recall the entirety of the life of Jesus.  John’s Gospel makes it clear, as Mary makes it clear in her remarks, that Jesus came to show us the Father (John 1:18), doing so by every word and deed.

Eternal life does not come as a reward, a thing earned by good deeds or  right belief. Eternal life is the Lord’s Prayer lived out by those who follow Jesus every day. When God’s will is done on earth–then on earth will it be as it is in heaven.

Last night I visited with a a number of people shivering in their tents, hungry; cold ; afraid; I entered into the lives of people who are in another world–lost in their mental illness; there are more tents in our alleys, and our Parks than when I came here nearly 23 years ago. Oakland is overwhelmed with homelessness. Several years ago I walked under the streets of New York City, where thousands live, and above we hear of how New York keeps the City clean.

Mary has a faith in things unseen, faith that comes from outside herself. She affirms that Earth is not a waiting room for heaven, nor is this life about merely passing time before our true destination. Eternal life starts now when we glorify God by our words–and our deeds of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, providing housing,  health care and respecting all religions and belief systems, and all nationalities. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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+Fr. Christian River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

Temenos Catholic Worker

Franciscans Against the Death Penalty

punkpriest1@gmail.com

franciscansagainstdeathpenalty@gmail.com

http://www.temenos.org

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Peniel–June-Pride Issue

May 30, 2017

“Where Jacob Wrestled With God and Survived”

 

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

Temenos@gmail.com

www.temenos.org (pay pal)

June, 2017

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.,  Director

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Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

One day a person was asking Dorothy Day how she could remain within the church, when the church was indifferent to poverty.  She replied, “The Church is both a whore, and our holy Mother.” 

    Dorothy was expressing the ying and the yang in the humanity of the Church. We struggle with the good and bad in our lives, and we are a mixture of evil.  None of us is perfect. We are redeemed by Jesus, but our redemption will not come into its fullness on this earth; we are constantly growing and struggling. The best of the Church is found in its mothering, and caring, but the majority of the time it is somewhere in between.

    June is the month of Pride. We celebrate the equality of all of people, regardless of race, creed, religion, and in particular sexual orientation.  We affirm gender in all forms.

    A quote from the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, Kate Hennessy, in her book Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty, speaks of the pain resulting for her father and, ultimately, his family in the church of his day, on his being queer:

“A photo has survived of my father and MM, a slender, handsome man, with a pleasant face, not so rugged as David’s (her father), nor with the same intensity.  I look at the photo of the two of them, and I know I am witness to the shredding of a man’s soul, because of his love for another man and his church and his faith could not abide this.” 

“God cannot rest in an unquiet heart,” said St. Teresa of Avila, “and what is more unquiet than a heart filled with self hatred.”

Thus began years of struggle with anger, alcoholism, and domestic abuse that led to his family’s leaving the church. The church (universal Church) has come a long way since then, where she has grown and has become open and accepting in many of her branches, but the struggle remains. The pain also remains; we need to face it, struggle with it, and move to the point of seeing the One whom it represents–Jesus–who loves us abundantly.

    Jesus of Nazareth summarizes the Great Commandment that is required in order to follow him: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.” It is looking in his eyes of inclusive love that we find ourselves in the embrace of  “holy mother church.”

    And through looking into that face, I find the ability to love Christ and my neighbor, and see my own self- hatred evaporate, and so I can proclaim loud, and clear: “I am a priest in holy Mother Church, and I am queer.”

 

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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IN MEMORY

Vilma Van Ollefen

Spiritual Director,  Minister to the Poorest of the Poor, Friend of Temenos Catholic Worker

And Fr. River Sims

 

In Memory of

Mark Gummere

 

 

WE ARE BEGGARS:

When people donate money to us, one can say it becomes the money of Temenos Catholic Worker, but we personally always remember that that money is the possession of others given to be used for the welfare of our street youth, and we use it as a sacred trust and in a responsible manner. Food, socks, pastoral care, and harm reduction supplies are provided through your giving.

Please give as your heart leads you:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

PayPal: www.temenos.org

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Anyone who would like to volunteer at Pride on June 25th, please contact Fr. River at  the number above.

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Our every day work continues, feeding people, providing needle exchange, pastoral care and counseling for individuals, and simply walking with people on the road of life.

For the past six and a half years one woman has walked with us in providing space for cooking, funerals, and storage of our supplies.  This week we grieve, as the Reverend Dana Corsello of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church leaves for Washington D.C. We also rejoice in her new position.  You will be missed my friend. Thank you for your support, for your care, these past years!

Dana Is the One On the Right-Helen Prejean on the left–two worthy, courageous ladies.

 

 

 

 

Gratitude

May 28, 2017

Gratitude

A twenty year old once commented to me, “You must have f. . .ck up a lot  when you were young, to do all this for us.”

In some ways he was right. Sin is missing the mark of loving our neighbor, and when I was a young pastor a young man approached me and said, “I think there is something wrong with me, I like guys.”  I was in the closet, I was in a church which teaches, that “homosexuality is intrinsically evil,” and so I froze, and told him “Come back later, I am busy.”  He shot himself two hours later. That began my own coming out, and it knocked me so far into depression that I too attempted suicide.

I learned from that experience that the broken body of Christ is in each one of us, and by only putting people first do we meet Christ. When I am unable to put the other person first, I go away, turn my phone off;  Others must always be first. We take care of ourselves–and than  take care of others. For in the other–is the Christ!

I have learned that Christ comes to each of us in the rainbow of colors–of  nationalities and  religions, with differing  thoughts and theologies,  that are far different from our own.  We evolve like a fish out of water when when we encounter each person with an open heart. We are in a constant process of evolution.

Yesterday we had a luncheon in honor of my doctorate, and I was touched at the people present–different colors, different backgrounds, the extremely rich, the extremely poor–the rainbow of people I love. They hate me, they love me, but all show me respect.

I sit today in gratitude, gratitude for my life.  I sit in gratitude for Jesus, who has opened my eyes to the rainbow of colors around me, and reminds me each day that people are first because in each one of us he dwells–broken, beaten down, and in each we behold  his  face. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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+Fr. Christian River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

punkpriest1@gmail.com

franciscansagainstdeathpenalty@gmail.com

415-305-2124

In the Stillness of the Night

May 27, 2017

In the Stillness of the Night

“Little children let us love, not in word of speech, but in truth and in action” I John 3:18

In the stillness of the night I hear many voices, and tonight I have heard the voice of  the Angel of Death as I learned of the death of Christian, thirty four. I have known Christian since he was 14. I remember meeting him first on the the corner of Polk and Sutter where he was “working”, and from the moment we met we became fast friends, we had the same first name.  I saw him grow from a cute kid into a harden drug user, in and out of treatment and jail,  but there was an innate sweetness about him. Christian struggled so hard. I remember distinctly when he was 19 coming up on him in Hemlock Alley late one night, he was preparing to shoot up, and he had just gotten out of treatment. I told him to be careful, for being in treatment without using for months and than shooting up after that long a period  you can over dose. He handed me the syringe and asked me if it was too much. I shot over half of it out, and he thanked me and he shot up with the remaining dosage. Christian was one of the guys who has taught me to live in the gray areas, life is not black and white.  You can judge the actions of others, or you can act in love towards them, and being  concerned about their  welfare. I am reminded often  that sin is “missing the mark,” that of not  loving our neighbor as ourselves–and so our actions must be in love,  not judgement–what is best for the welfare of the person at the time.  Christian died of liver failure.

And when I look the Angel of Death in the eye I hear the words of Paul:

“O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting? . . and the words of Jesus: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. . “

There is no fear, but hope! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. Christian River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

franciscansagainstdeathpenalty@gmail.com

punkpriest1@gmail.com

415-305-2124

Let Us Join Our Brothers and Sisters in Solidarity

May 26, 2017

LET US JOIN WITH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS  IN THIS MONTH OF FASTING AND SOLIDARITY

Introduction

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on a 12 month lunar year of approximately 354 days. Because the lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar year, each lunar month moves 11 days earlier each year. It takes 33 solar years for the lunar months to complete a full cycle and return to the same season. This year, the month long fast of Ramadan is set to begin on May 27th, 2017. The month traditionally begins and ends based on the sighting of the first crescent of the new moon. Starting on May 26th, Muslims throughout the United States and the rest of the world will begin to search the sky for the new crescent, or in some cases, they will follow a pre-determined date based on astronomical calculation. During this month, Muslims fast from pre-dawn until sunset, as a means to grow in God-consciousness and moral excellence.

The Length and Purpose of Fasting
Muslims fast from pre-dawn to sunset, a fast of between 11-16 hours depending on the time of year for a period of 29-30 days. The fast of Ramadan entails forgoing food and drink, and if married, abstaining from sex during the fasting hours. For Muslims, Ramadan is a time to train themselves both physically and spiritually by avoiding any negative acts such as gossiping, backbiting, lying or arguing. Muslims welcome Ramadan as an opportunity for self-reflection, and spiritual improvement. Ramadan is also a highly social time as Muslims invite each other to break fast together and meet for prayers at the mosque.

The ultimate goal of fasting is gaining greater God-consciousness, in Arabic, taqwa, signifying a state of constant awareness of God. From this awareness a person should gain discipline, self-restraint and a greater incentive to do good and avoid wrong.  In commemoration of the revelation of the Qur’an, Muslim’s holy book, which began during the month of Ramadan, Muslims attempt to read the entire book during Ramadan and gather nightly at mosques to hold special prayers during which the entire Qur’an is recited by the end of the month

Who Fasts
All Muslims who have reached puberty are obliged to fast. However, for people in situations where fasting would be a hardship, they are exempted from fasting. This includes anyone who is sick or traveling; women who are pregnant, nursing, or on their menses; or older people who are too weak or ill to fast. Anyone who is exempted must make up the fast later, except for those who cannot fast due to age or chronic illness. Instead, they can feed a poor person for every day of fasting they miss.

Children
While children are not required to fast until they reach puberty, it is customary for children beginning around seven years of age to perform limited or symbolic fasting such as fasting half days or on weekends. This trains them gradually and helps to engender a sense of inclusion during the month long observance. Mosques often give special recognition to children who are fasting their first full day or first Ramadan.

Family Routines
A Muslim family usually rises about 5:00 a.m. before the first of dawn and eats a modest, breakfast-like meal called suhur. After the meal, the family performs the morning prayer, and depending on the circumstances, the family goes back to bed or begins the day. Particularly during the long summer months, people often take a nap in the late afternoon after work or school. At sunset, family members break the fast with a few dates and water, and depending on the culture, other light foods such as soup, appetizers or fruit. This is referred to as iftar which means “breaking the fast.” After performing the sunset prayers, the family eats dinner. Inviting guests to break the fast or going to someone else’s house for iftar is very common in Ramadan. Many families then go to the mosque for the night prayer and a special Ramadan prayer called taraweeh. After completing their prayers, the families return home around 11:45 p.m. (All of these times vary depending on the time of year, with shorter days in the winter and longer days in the summer.)

Special Activities
Many mosques host daily community dinners where Muslims can break their fast together. This is a great service for students, the poor and anyone who desires a break from cooking. Almost all mosques also host a community dinner on the weekends.

Special Ramadan prayers called taraweeh are held in most mosques after the night prayer. During taraweeh, the prayer leader recites at least one thirtieth of the Qur’an so that by the end of the month the entire Qur’an will have been recited.

Since Ramadan is a time for Muslims to be especially charitable and fasting helps Muslims feel compassion for the hungry and less fortunate, many mosques hold food drives or fundraisers for charity during Ramadan. Many mosques also host open houses for their friends and neighbors of other faiths to join them for their fast-breaking dinner or iftar at the end of the fasting day.

The Night of Power known as Lailat al-Qadr, is believed to fall on one of the odd nights during the last ten days of Ramadan, but is most widely observed on the 27th night of Ramadan. It is considered the most blessed night in Ramadan because it is believed to be the night in which the Qu’ran was first revealed. Mosques are open all night as Muslims hold vigils in prayer, Qur’anic recitation and contemplation.

Special Foods
Breaking the fast with dates is the only strictly traditional culinary custom associated with Ramadan. It is interesting to note the suitability of dates for this purpose as they are a concentrated source of energy and easily digestible. Different Muslim-populated countries have a variety of special dishes and desserts for Ramadan.

Benefits of Fasting
Doctors agree that fasting is extremely beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels and for other health benefits. Fasting is a means of purifying the body as well as the spirit, as it gives the body a rest from the continuous task of digesting food.

Eid al-Fitr
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate one of their major holidays called Eid al-Fitr or the “Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.” This year, it will be held on June 25th, 2017. Children traditionally receive new clothes, money or gifts from parents, relatives and friends. A special prayer and sermon are held the morning of Eid day, followed by a community celebration usually in a park or large hall. Food, games and presents for children are important parts of the festivities, as friends and family spend the day socializing, eating and reuniting with old acquaintances.

Similar to times of fasting in other faiths, such as Yom Kippur in Judaism and Lent in Christianity, Ramadan is an opportunity to learn the spirit of sacrifice, self-restraint, and introspection as well as a time for extra charity and good deeds.

In today’s world of increased intolerance, bigotry, conflict, and strife, let us take this month as an opportunity to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness, love, and peace, beginning first within ourselves and then extending this spirit to our family, friends, and communities. May the spirit of Ramadan encompass all of us with mercy and blessings and inspire us to work towards a better world for all its inhabitants.
We join without Muslim brothers and sisters during this month. We will fast from sun up to sun down, unless we have meals with others, and we will read Scripture at Noon.

In this time of fear and and misunderstanding we link our arms in fellowship with our brothers and sisters. Deo Gratias!  Thanks be to God!
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+Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
franciscansagainstdeathpenalty@gmail.com
temenos@gmail.com
415-305-2124

Sitting in the Dark

May 26, 2017

Sitting in the Dark

John 16:16-23

Last night a young man asked me for some food, and I bought him a piece of pizza, and we sat.  It was late, and was dark.  We talked for several hours.  That is what I do I  is sit in the dark with people.

For nearly twenty three years I have been , building relationships, walking with people in the dark,  acting as pastor of last resort for people who had no one else. I have had friends stabbed, beaten, and violated in so many ways this year; I have friends who are walking in the darkness of cancer diagnoses. And the majority of my friends sleep on the streets every night without hope of any where else. They sleep in the darkness of the cold streets, of hunger, and of lack of health care.

Sometimes, sitting in the dark is a real place – like late at night in with only the street lights.  But sometimes, the dark you sit in is a state of mind. Because the darkness is real, and sometimes all there is to fend it off is having a friend to sit with you.

Tomorrow I will have a reception celebrating the completion of my Doctor of Ministry, and the people present will have sat in the darkness with me through the years.  They sit in the dark with me as I sit with individuals who are in much darkness. For you see each donation received, each phone call, each moment spent for this ministry, for me, is sitting in the darkness with hundreds more–for I am never alone in the darkness–I am surrounded by a great cloud of saints living and past who walk with me on this journey.

I was asked yesterday by a young man who is looking at ministry “how do you measure your success?”  Elizabeth Gilbert summarizes it best for me:

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or your failures.”

So to all who walk with me in sitting with people in the dark, thank you! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Vigil Against the Death Penalty

12 Noon

Earl Warren Supreme Court Building\

350 McAllister Street

San Francisco, CA

Today

Let us remember Thomas Arthur

who was executed last night

in Alabama

May his soul rest in peace.

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Fr. C. River Damien Sims, sfw. D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

franciscansagainstdeathpenalty@gmail.com

Bearing Witness In A Time of Abandonment

May 25, 2017

Bearing Witness In A Time of Abandonment

Today, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. In Acts 1:6-10, we read:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

The Ascension seems odd in our modern days time, but when we look at it from a mythological point of view we see that Jesus transcends the physical limitations of the world and becomes the transcendent Christ, the River from whom many streams flow. We feel abandoned by his leaving, but in his leaving the opportunity is offered for us to bring others into the community of faith and sharing, and of hope.

Recently I was being taken to the air port and my driver asked me if I was “homeless”, frankly, my first reaction was thinking, “What a dumb fu.. .ck you are.” but than I realized I am homeless.  My home is in Christ, it is in following him on this journey and into Galilee. It is being an evangelist, but not an evangelist that proclaims “believe in Jesus or you go to hell,” but an evangelist who proclaims that that there is one River, with many streams, and that that River calls us to “love God with all of our heart mind, strength and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves.”

The Ascension calls us in that Spirit to live simply, and share our remaining possessions, to feed the hungry, to provide health care, and housing for all. The Ascension calls us to see all creatures, and all of our environment as God’s creation and to honor both. The Ascension calls us to come out of our tribes, and to stand with one another.

We are abandoned as long as we stew in our own juices, but when we come out of ourselves we move into the witness of the love of Christ, and the rainbow of God through other faith expressions to the world.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Witness Against the Death Penalty, Friday, September 26, Earl Warren Office Building, 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 12 Noon.

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+Fr. C. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

temenos.org

415-305-2124

In the Thin Places

May 24, 2017

In the Thin Places Is the Eucharist

John  16:12-15

Last week I celebrated the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Healing with an old friend who is severely ill; several days ago  as I was leaving a restaurant an older homeless man approached me for food, and so I took him back to the restaurant and sat with him as he ate, and in those moments of fellowship the Eucharist was celebrated; last night I gave two guys socks and the Eucharist was celebrated.

In all of these instances I am reminded of the thin places in our lives because they make the experience of God’s desire for each one of us, and our desire for God more possible, by capturing our attention and pulling us out of our ordinary routines and concerns.  In these moments I am reminded that ultimately all we have is God, and nothing else matters.

Last Friday night I received my Doctor of Ministry Degree from Knox Theological Seminary, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida–one of the top Evangelical seminaries in the country.

One of its top benefactors was Dr. James Kennedy. When I was a young whore on the streets of Los Angles, kicked out of my denomination, shunned by my old friends for being queer, I read one of his books, wrote him a letter–he responded with so much love, and compassion, and continued to respond through the years from my being on the streets as a whore and than  back to the streets as a priest. In the thin places he showed me love and grace. In the thin places  we celebrated the Eucharist together, for he broke bread with me in my pain.  In these two years at Knox in the thin places I have celebrated the Eucharist. I have broken bread in fellowship and God has come near. Knox Theological Seminary has met me in the thin places.

Today in Texas Juan Castillo and in Alabama Thomas  Arthur are scheduled to be executed. Let us pray for them and break bread with them in our prayers, let us break bread with their victims, and walk in the thin places of forgiveness and mercy.

One of my professors, Dr. Jonothan Linebaugh, tells us that through justification by faith we come to God as forgiven sinners.  We are on the road to salvation, and that when we come to the final judgment our Great Therapist  will gather us together and hash out everything and bring us into fellowship with the One God. As Clement of Alexander tells us “There is one River, but many streams,” in in that one River we will meet.

I have come home in these years, and have found my ministry renewed. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Friday, 12 Noon: Vigil Against Death Penalty–Earl Warren Office Building, 350 McAllister Street.

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Fr. C. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Letting Go! And Letting Christ!

May 12, 2017

LETTING GO! AND LETTING CHRIST!

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.” In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. . .John 14:1-10

Today I remember Zach, my kid, who was murdered in 2001 on this date, but in remembering him I remember the thousands of deaths I have mourned through the years, and the thousands of memorial services I have conducted.  Each death I mourned, I grieved, and in each service I shared of the resurrection.  Death is not easy, death is not beautiful, death is horrifying–only in the face of the resurrection we have hope.   When I mention Zach’s death, or the loss of someone else, people say, “I am sorry”, in a low tone of voice.  In other words–let us not  talk about it.
Death is a reality–that is all around us–if our hearts are open as we read the news  they should be breaking at the countless deaths resulting from war and starvation around the world. There are days I struggle with how we as humans are so blood thirsty and selfish, and it is in our  DNA, and than I look at the cross and see the face of Christ. This is the struggle of humanity, and Christ will have the last word. That is the hope that keeps me going.
The Angel of Death moves around me in the night. In my mind I see her, for it is the fears, and the doubts, that confront me about my mortality.  I slept little last night after a long day of listening to young men and women who live in the shadow of death on the street, and I feel my own mortality. I slept little thinking of Zach being stabbed, and dying in an abandoned building, I slept little thinking of the eighty five year old  lady who is being evicted and no where to go. And my buddy the Angel of Death sits down on my bed and we chat.
As the good Angel and I chat, I am letting go, and letting Christ.  More and more, I am simply letting go.
Letting go of my fears of death, my fears of dying alone. I will probably die  a violent death on the streets, or in a hospital, my room, or a hotel –alone.  My ministry is my call from God, and  I chose to enter into that call.  I have entered into that choice with my whole heart. It is a call in which I have chosen singleness,  in order to  “embrace the thousands,” as an old boss of mine told me I had the choice to do. But I will not be alone–Christ is always there–in season and out of season, he is present, and I feel his presence, and his love. He embraced me last night in love. I had night sweats for hours, and I was not alone.
I am letting go of the past, and the future, and living in the moment. The moment is all we have. Each day I spend hours simply listening to others, and it is the moment that matters. 
On this anniversary of Zach’s death the words of 
Carlo Carretto ring true to me:

God is thrust onward by his love, not attracted by our beauty. He comes even in moments when we have done everything wrong, when we have done nothing . . . even when we have sinned.
– Carlo Carretto, The God Who Comes 
 
(God comes . . . NOW! What is your response?)

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Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. candidate, D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Complexity

May 11, 2017

 

Complexity

“Good and bad are like black and white, convenient dichotomies. They are neat and easy ways of stepping around disorder, contradictions, and people and things that just refuse to fit neatly into the mold that our minds create for them. But they are not helpful constructions in coming to terms with the big issues: God, life, death, infinity, faith, justice, and mercy.”

-Br. Robert L’Esperance

    When we respond to the issues of life in the black and white life becomes easier, and it becomes inhumane.

For life is complex. Sexuality is complex. Our sexuality is express in so many wonderful and different ways, and yet we stigmatize, and seek to put the boundary of straight and gay around it. Queers of all sorts–gay/lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning are hounded, persecuted, because they are different. Individuals who are fluid in their gender are seen as “different” and persecuted. Sexuality is complex–it is to be embraced in its rain bow of colors.

Homelessness is complex– but when one follows the words of Dan Berrigan it brings life into context:

” Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or bought it or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even.”

    People ask why I spend hours  cooking  meals, why I sit down in the Park, on the street, in a restaurant, and eat with people–it simplifies life–the complexity of life simply becomes two human beings on the same journey. That “meeting his  eyes” is worth everything–there is no greater “high” than one can find than looking that person in his or her eyes and seeing  the spark of life which the food gives.  And the one great lesson we learn together is when  we love God, and our neighbor–in those moments in particular each other–all will be well. Jesus summarized the Commandments in these words:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Simple, but yet calls us to embrace all of life in its complexity.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. candidate, D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124